It is possible to make a pun with the word “bar” in German because it is a word on its own, meaning “pub” (who wouldn’t have guessed) but it is also a suffix “-bar” that, when attached to a noun or a verb, creates an adjective. (Wunder -> wunderbar; machen -> machbar). This suffix is quite recently becoming more and more productive: even words that had previously taken the suffix “-lich” can now instead take the suffix “-bar” [e.g. “unersetzlich” -> “unersetzbar”. The latter is still somewhat unusual but becoming more and more common (cf. Bastian Sick: Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod)].
This lengthy explanation should make you aware that “unsichtbar” denotes “invisible” in German but it can be used for a pun with a bar. Then it means something like “no sight bar”. There is indeed such a place in Cologne. It is not a bar, actually, but a restaurant. Tanja and I invited my parents there for their birthdays. And it was absolutely great.
You eat and drink there in absolute darkness. It is so dark actually, that “you cannot see your hand in front of your eyes” (which is the German idiom for pitch-black dark). So you order before entering the dining room and you just can choose a theme for your menu – after all you want to do some guesswork as to what you actually eat in the darkness. Tanja, my mother and I chose “Cheese” and my father and brother chose “Lamb”. Then you are taken into the dining room by a blind waiter or waitress. They bring you into a “light-lock” with dimmed lights from where they take you to your table. You have to remember your waiter’s name because you have to call out for her/him – waving at them is quite pointless in the dark.
After some chatting with your companions when you try to find out who sits where and to make out your surroundings the food arrives. You can of course try to eat with knife and fork but as it is quite difficult and nobody can see you anyway most people take their hands (or one hand) to help with the task. Then the big guessing starts: what is this strange squishy stuff on my plate? It tastes like…like…mmm…it’s good but I can’t quite think what it is…it’s some vegetable…could be spinach? And this must be…it tastes fried…probably potatoes? Some people who went there before us told us that it is virtually impossible to realise what you are actually eating but Tanja, my mother and I got pretty close. It is, of course, possible that the cheese Menu is easier to guess but what I want to believe is that as we all cook rather often we are more experienced as to what tastes go with what food.
The time was flying and in no time the menu was eaten and more than two hours had passed. I must admit that I found it a bit pricey. I wouldn’t have paid that much for that quality of food in a normal restaurant. But for the experience of absolute darkness and the dependence on hearing, feeling and trusting your waiter it was absolutely worth it. It is a bit scary but also really really cool.
The coolest effect for me was that I was able to “see” after a couple of minutes. There was a film of my surroundings in my head, I saw with an “inner eye”. Strangely, that is also what I remember: I remember the darkness, of course, but only as the concept. But the rest of my memories took the form of pictures, as my brain put together the rest of the information, what I could feel with my hands, what I could hear with my ears. It was something like reading a book when I see at the same time the letters and words in front of my eyes and I also see the world they describe as the words form pictures somewhere in my imagination.
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